I want to begin by expressing how amazingly blessed I am. Nancy is an amazing caregiver. My children care deeply for my well-being, and that means a lot. The church I serve continues to walk well with me and I love the opportunity to serve them and the wider community. The people I get to share life with each day are an encouragement and a blessing!
When I met with my newest oncologist he continued to express how impressed he was with how my body has responded to treatment. At one point he reviewed my scans from 2016 and remarked, “Your liver was filled with cancer!” There was amazement in his voice. My surgeon refers to me as “an outlier.” Dr. Saroha continues to be an encouragement and gently reminds me where we were, and how far we have come. All that to say, “I am blessed beyond belief.” God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good!
Friday afternoon I made the decision to move forward with Hepatic Arterial Infusion Pump. This means a pump will be surgically implanted into my body and will deliver chemotherapy directly to the liver. The liver is the only place we can see metastases right now so this seems to make the most sense.
Part of the month-long discussion about treatment options included conversations about surgically removing the part of my liver that has the tumor. We (okay, the surgeon) decided that was not a good idea right now for a few reasons.
- My liver has been severely damaged due to two rounds of intense chemotherapy. While a normal liver would regenerate we cannot trust that mine would. Removing a large section of my liver could put me at risk for liver failure.
- While all my cancer is currently located in the lower right section of my liver (the piece they would remove) I have had cancer through the entire liver. The chances of the cancer recurring in the smaller, post surgery liver are rather high and that would create problems.
- The Hepatic Artery Infusion Pump will treat the entire liver directly. While not curative this should help reduce existing metastases and limit any future growth. The pump will be filled with chemotherapy every two weeks and will slowly deliver treatment directly to my liver.
Now that we have made a decision it is all about scheduling and getting things in order for the surgery.
I am told it is close to a 2 hour surgery, followed by a few days in the hospital to manage pain, and then a few weeks of recovery time (2 to 6). If all goes well we will hit the ground running in 2020!
I am seeking to balance what could be seen as inconvenient parts to this journey with the blessings found within them.
- Part of the pump option requires a trip to Philadelphia every two weeks. [I have managed that very easily the past month and have found a great pizza place to enjoy each trip up – a blessing amidst the disruption]
- The pump would also allow me the option to take regular, systemic chemotherapy at the same time. [The upside is that while the pump is targeted directly to my liver the systemic chemotherapy would treat my entire body. I am working with Dr. Saroha to figure out the best course of action here – I have options, we can adapt and change as we move along]
- During the conversation with my newest oncologist he was surprised, shocked is probably a more accurate word, at the amount of time I have been “off treatment” since 2016. [God has truly been good and I must continually remember the blessings amidst the struggles. It would be so easy to focus on the difficulty of being back in treatment…but I have truly been blessed beyond belief.]
- While I must travel to Philadelphia to have the pump filled with chemotherapy every two weeks…I can/could get my normal (systemic) treatments with those people I have come to know and appreciate right here in Kennett Square. [There is something comforting about that for me.]
- Finally, I insisted that any treatment plan keep Dr. Saroha involved and “in the loop.” [That was met with absolute understanding, agreement, and a plan as to how that would happen.]
The links I have shared feature some of the doctors who will be doing and supervising my journey with what we lovingly call the “hockey puck sized pump.”
Dr. Roses will be my surgeon while Dr. Schneider is my medical oncologist.
Again, thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and concern. As soon as I have a date for the procedure I will let you know.